Apr 26, 2014
After an eventful trip from Mazamet to Toulouse and then onto Paris we settled into our studio apartment just off the Boulevard St Michel on Quai des Grands Augustins. For those wanting a place to stay in central Paris I can thoroughly recommend the Citadines Apart-Hotel. It is adjacent to the Seine and most of the places of interest in Paris are just a short walk away or an easy trip on the Metro from St Michel on Ligne 4.
The weather was bad and forecast to remain bad for our stay in Paris. As a result we decided to avoid the rain by taking a very short walk across the bridge onto the Isle de Cité where we joined the long line of people wanting to see Sainte Chapelle inside the Palais de Justice. Sainte Chapelle must rate as one of the most beautiful churches in the world. The history is interesting and it is intertwined with the reign of Louis IX, later Saint Louis. It turns out that the day we visited the church was the 800th anniversary of the birth of Saint Louis and there was a concert in the Chapel that evening to celebrate the event. More about that a little later.
We walked back to our apartment in the rain and waited until it had stopped before walking along the left bank of the Seine to the Musée D'Orsay. We joined another long line of people which was there mainly because there was an exhibition of Van Gogh paintings in the museum. Once inside we went up to the top floor to see the exhibition of Impressionists. It must be one of the best collections of Monets, Manets, Sisleys and other impressionists whose names escape me at the moment. There is so much to see at Musée D'Orsay that it probably requires s few days to do it justice. Inside the museum there was a further queue to see the Van Gogh exhibition but as it was getting towards closing time the queue was much shorter and we decided to wait to see the exhibits. They were displayed in a way that plotted Van Gogh's state of mind as it progressed towards his death. There must have been fifty or more original paintings by Van Gogh, many of them the best known of his works.
In the evening we returned to Sainte Chapelle to listen to the concert of 13th century music from the period when Louis IX (Saint Louis) was king of France. The acoustics of the upper chapel were amazing but the music was a little repetitive. It was presumably authentic and well researched but it was boring. It was a non stop set of madrigals delivered by a group of six male voices. There is no doubt that the quality of the voices, their pitch and harmonies were superb but the material that they had to deliver was mind numbingly boring and similar for ninety minutes without a break. The setting and acoustics, however, were superb and it was a very pleasant end to our first day in Paris.